Don’t use ‘Swine Flu’ as a political football
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I am writing in response to the articles published yesterday and associated articles recently published about lack of transparency about the presence of ‘Swine Flu’ in Jamaica.
As Dr Dayton Campbell pointed out in an article, the Influenza A: H1N1 virus causes fairly similar symptoms to the related strain that is referred to as ‘Swine Flu’. ‘Swine Flu’ is caused by a mutant strain of the virus and is considered to have the potential to cause a pandemic. However, there are several strains of flu viruses circulating.
As a public health epidemiologist and a former environmental health officer in Jamaica, I would like to suggest that the Ministry of Health and the politicians move the focus away from the virus. Instead, work together to educate the population on how the virus is transmitted and encourage them to get vaccinated, practise good cough etiquette, hand hygiene, and other infection-prevention and control strategies.
It is rather unfortunate when something like the seasonal flu is used as a political football. It is not necessary. These efforts and the political clout should be converted into efforts aimed at influencing health-promoting actions among the population. I believe that would have a more far-reaching effect and garner a lot more respect and admiration for the politicians.